The Strength to Build Something New

Jan Jamrich, current CEO of Entromy and a former principal from BCG’s Boston office, discusses his entrepreneurial journey and what keeps him inspired.

HOW DID ENTROMY COME TO BE?

The Entromy story began when I was still at BCG and involved in restructuring projects. I realized that the process of customer discovery and evaluating business maturity, risks, and capabilities could take weeks of manual effort from consultants. While running analytics teams, I discovered that leading technologies—such as AI, natural language processing, and organizational network analysis—could disrupt and automate organizational discovery with a real-time view of critical issues and opportunities. I saw this as “consulting 3.0,” and I thought we could enable customers better and more cost effectively with the use of advanced technologies.

I left BCG in 2015 and started Entromy in 2016. My goal was to partner closely with consulting firms to accelerate the M&A process, leadership onboarding, and major business transformations by tapping into better information. We have evolved and blossomed over the last couple of years while working with several top-tier private equity (PE) firms and consulting partners. We now support the transitions of new CEOs, provide visibility during M&A and restructuring, and help CHROs take a more strategic approach to traditional employee engagement.

WHAT WERE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU FACED WHILE CREATING ENTROMY?

The biggest challenge when you start a software company from scratch is establishing credibility. You must patiently build your reputation for delivery and quality one customer at a time. The first customers are taking a huge bet on whether the new software product can support them. During this credibility-building phase, it was very much an all hands-on-deck, close, and supportive environment where transparency and trust were pivotal. We had to ensure that—at a time when our software was less robust and had fewer features and limited functionality—we would really be able to support clients and ensure strong outcomes. The dedication to partnering and being able to marry the software with quality support allowed us to establish ourselves as a strong partner for many customers.

WHICH ENTROMY SERVICES DO YOU ENJOY PROVIDING THE MOST? WHY?

What I enjoy most is helping PE firms accelerate value realization for their portfolio companies. We have become a trusted, standard provider of organizational assessments and diligence for many of the top PE firms. Entromy is most often used when these firms acquire a new portfolio company in order to provide them with a deep postdeal assessment. This allows our clients to get a clear idea of the strategic opportunities and risks that come with new companies, enabling them to accelerate their value creation plan by leveraging insights from within their organizations. Entromy’s capabilities can support the executive team across many critical topics, including: strategic planning; building a culture that is high-powered, diverse, and inclusive; and increasing transparency and organizational agility.

YOU MENTIONED THAT THE MINDSET AND CLIENT EXPOSURE YOU FOUND AT BCG CONTRIBUTED TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF YOUR COMPANY.

HOW DID YOUR EXPERIENCE AT BCG HELP SHAPE YOUR CAREER OVERALL?

At BCG, I worked with senior and executive-level clients to rapidly understand their problems, quickly deliver advice, and be very clear about what it is that BCG could do to help them. I learned a lot about customer service and being able to really structure, frame, and communicate value propositions. I discovered the best ways to engage with a highly discerning audience.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU SHARE WITH ASPIRING ENTREPRENEURS?

My advice is to be clear with yourself. What is it that you want to do? What is driving you toward entrepreneurship? That level of framing is an important part of the journey. Do I want to be the Founder and CEO? Or do I want to join a great company and play a specific role that really augments its strengths? This is a critical decision because getting into any position that is not a fit is almost doomed to fail. The reality is that starting a company from scratch is incredibly difficult, so just knowing your strengths, your appetite for risk, and the level of grit and commitment that you will be able to dedicate to your work is important.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU OFFER TO BCGERS WHO ARE CONSIDERING FOUNDING A STARTUPS?

One of the biggest challenges that people have is starting to build something that at first has no brand recognition. How much stamina do you have when people ask you what you are working on and they don’t recognize the name? Just having the mental strength to say “I’m building something new” is for many people one of the harder parts. You need to stay true to your original intentions. The level of motivation you feel from the new challenge must outweigh the pride you feel from people recognizing your organization.

DO YOU WORK WITH OTHER BCGERS?

I work with a never-ending list of BCGers. One of my early investors and advisors is Amit Kumar, a managing director and partner in BCG’s Boston office. I also work with Nikhil Bhojwani, a former principal running Recon Strategy, and Craig Della Penna, who is a managing partner at Aesop Partners. Those are just a few people that are most closely involved with Entromy. They were early advisors and supporters who were essential to Entromy’s formation.

Of course, what keeps you going is surrounding yourself with great people.

WHAT ELSE KEEPS YOU INSPIRED AND MOTIVATED?

I had a longtime dream of starting a technology company ever since I did independent software development as a vendor in college. At BCG, I had the opportunity to cofound the analytics practice (which has since evolved into BCG GAMMA). The idea of starting something from scratch and creating a level of excitement, combined with enlisting people on the journey of building something bigger than you’d expect, is why I remain motivated. Of course, what keeps you going is surrounding yourself with great people.

HOW HAS ENTROMY ADAPTED TO THE NEW REALITY DURING THE PANDEMIC?

Entromy has become even more relevant over the past seven months as organizations adapt to the changing business landscape. Leaders started to grapple with the fact that working remotely is the new normal and needed to figure out how to connect with their employees. New executives joining an organization have also needed to get up to speed quickly. They’ve had to determine how to respond to employee needs and how to address workplace safety and security issues. Entromy’s solution fits squarely into these scenarios. We survey employees and provide companies with real-time organizational intelligence on planning for the return to the workplace, addressing the growing mental health issues that are affecting companies, and providing new executives effective onboarding. Entromy has felt the same effects as our customers, given our own shift to remote work and adaptation to this new reality.

Originally published by Boston Consulting Group at https://www.bcg.com/alumni/spotlight/jan-jamrich-interview